10 Free Things to do in Krakow

Wawel River early morning, Krakow
Krakow is an interesting city with a real sense of the old world fighting to embrace the new.  There are plenty of trips and experiences that will part you from your cash from hot air balloon flights to fascinating salt mines. So here are 10 things to do for free when the Zloty is running low.

1. Royal Wawel Castle Grounds
Situated on a limestone hill overlooking the Old Town, you can stroll around the grounds and admire the renaissance inner courtyard with frescos and dragon head gutters. Just ensure you are not beneath a dragon head when it starts to rain!

Castle Courtyard
2. Wawel Cathedral.
Look out for the ‘dragon bones’ that hang over the doorway as you enter the cathedral. They are said to belong to the legendary Smok Wawelski, a virgin and lamb eating dragon that terrorised Cracow during the 12th Century.

3. Head Stand
Stand inside the head and peer out of the eye of a giant, bronze Igor Mitoraj sculpture in the largest medieval market Square in Europe. Famous for his large sculptures, he gifted this one to the city after an exhibition there in 2003.
Igor Mitoraj Sculpture

4. Early rise for the weekend markets
Head for the heart of the Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. At Plac Nowy you’ll find the original Rotunda market selling local produce but at the weekends, the market expands with antiques and junk on Saturdays and second hand clothes on a Sundays but you need to get there early – it starts at 5.30am.

5. Follow the old city walls
A 4km park thrives where the old city walls once stood. Segmented with tree lined avenues and different styles, like Art Nouveau and Romantic. It encircles the Old Town and prevents you getting lost when exploring the confusing cobbled streets within.

6. Tiny St Adalberts Church
Visit one of the oldest and smallest places of worship in Cracow. Although largely rebuilt in the 17th Century, original parts like the entrance portal and windows still remain. From outside, you can see the original level of the market square below the steps.

7. Look up for the Bugler
From the top window of the taller tower of St Mary’s Basilica, a bugler plays a melody every hour. The melody ends abruptly and incomplete to commemorate the bugler who died from being shot in the throat by a Tatar archer while sounding a warning to the city.

8. Hideout at this Florianska Cafe
For a bit of Bohemian relaxation head to Jama Michalika cafe, where student’s artwork from the turn of the 20th century adorn the walls. The decor dates back to 1908 when the cafe was a popular meeting place for young Poles and artists. www.jamamichalika.pl/index_eng.htm

9. Jagellonian University Museum
The oldest university building in Poland is free on Tuesday afternoons and home to ancient university collections, including the first globe to mention the existence of America. In the courtyard see the clock with a procession of historically important figures every 2 hours form 11am.

10. Dragon’s Den
Take a walk along the riverside at the base of Wawel Castle and relax with the locals on the grass. Look out for the dragon sculpture at the entrance to the cave beside the western slope and wait patiently for a few minutes to witness it breathing fire.
Fire Breathing Dragon at the base of Wawel Castle

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